I had the opportunity for a small group meeting yesterday with Dan Pink, best selling author of the books, To Sell is Human, Drive, and Free Agent Nation at a Thought Leadership Conference sponsored by my mentor, Alan Weiss down at the Breakers Hotel in Palm Beach.
Dan spent several a day with us and provided some amazing insights about how he develops his ideas for his books, his thoughts about the future of publishing and what he believes his readers want from his work; and none of that was the biggest take away for me during the day.
Dan described himself as naturally curious and has a thirst for understanding cutting edge research from the lab and field. As he goes about hunting for information, the people he meets provoke this thinking so that one question leads to the next and the next. He told us that he catalogues information (primarily in paper form in his office) and as he begins to review his findings, ideas emerge and then the book formulation begins.
As for the future of publishing, he thinks it will go the way of the music industry and mentioned Spotify as a potential model for books. He suggests that there may be a web site where we will all be able to download any book and read whatever we want so long as we are members of that web site (kind of sounds like that big building we use to go to as kids—the library!) The great thing about that model will be that all books will be available to us but with the distractions surrounding downloading books electronically (games and the such on our ipads) the result may be less reading, not more.
He quoted Malcolm Gladwell’s comment that people are “experience rich but theory poor” and feels that his books merge social science theory and research along with the practical applications that people can use everyday in their real life. By helping his readers understand why they behave in certain ways and how we can improve on our lives, his books will, hopefully, continue to be successful.
But far and away, the coolest thing I liked about Dan started at lunch. Our small group introduced ourselves and began hearing about his work. When we finished lunch, we moved into our conference room to begin our general discussion. It soon became apparent that Dan knew everyone’s name in the room. We all began wondering how the heck he did that. Finally, my colleague and web guru, Chad Barr asked him about it and he told us that he had requested our bios and web sites before the conference and that he took the time to review the information he was sent. “It was my due diligence” he said, “you guys are devoting a significant portion of your time for me and I had an obligation to make sure that I was properly prepared and knew about you”. Wow, that really blew me away and gave me a new perspective about the power of preparation and respect.
I have a meeting with a new client next week and I asked the CEO to send me the bios of her leadership team so I can get to know them a little bit before I enter the room. As I like to think I do every day, Dan Pink’s message was my 1% learning for that day.